(partial, informal notes on Brother’s talk CD, “Devotion: Understanding Its Deeper Aspects in the Search for God”)
You know, after we were finished building India Hall Master had a formal dedication, there were several hundred people there. And after the function was over, the people were gone, we were sitting with Master, Master remained in India Hall, we were sitting with him. And he chatted informally and then he looked around the hall and he said, “To think of it, that my little boys built this.” And we were so proud to be Master’s little boys.
And now did you hear how he introduced me? “The Reverend Brother Anandamoy…” (much laughter)
Well, I tell you, to my last day I am one of Master’s little boys. (applause from the audience)
Brother Anadamoy front center
Devotion -Claiming God as your own true love
…there are two cosmic forces, one is the force of projection going out from the unmanifested consciousness of God producing, projecting that universe. And then there is the other force, it is the cosmic force of attraction which draws everything back in to God’s consciousness again. And that is the universal power of love in all creation, inherent in all beings, even in every atom. And that force is stronger, obviously than the one that is projecting, because otherwise none of us would ever get back again.
That force is stronger than the law of cause and effect, of karma. And it’s very interesting, Master said:
“Since God is not bound by his cosmic law devotion is also necessary to summon his attention. Devotional demand is greater than law, the law of cause and effect, because it touches the heart of God and makes him answer his naughty and good children alike.
“Law is based on mathematical precision, justice weighted according to the law of cause and effect. Devotion is based upon claiming God as your own true love. Law is exacting in its demand, but love presupposes God’s mercy, and thereby attracts his response, whether or not the full measure of the law has been met.”
Isn’t that tremendous?
(Bro. A. tells a sweet story of a young man showing up at Mother Center and Master said, “You! You shouldn’t have come back this time!” Master explained later that the man had left the path in an earlier life, done all kinds of things wrong, so according to the law of karma, cause and effect, he shouldn’t have come back. But, because he had DEVOTION he had come back in this life to the path.. And once when Master had gone secretly in the desert to work, one day a car pulls up and out steps this devotee. And Bro. A. asked who told him where Master was, and the answer was ‘Nobody’, he just had to see the guru, so he got in his car and prayed to God and drove, and here he was. Bro. A. says, “Devotion!”)
Read this story~~The Power of DEVOTION, a Yogananda Story~ BRO. ANANDAMOY
Cultivate the desire for God…nobody can give it to you, you have to cultivate it yourself
I remember that was the last thing Master–the evening before he left the body, we were together with him a few of us monks and once more he gave us keys of the spiritual path, what we should concentrate on, and above all that one thing he stressed, cultivate the desire for God. He said nobody can give it to you, you have to cultivate it yourself.
Now when we say that one great aspect of devotion means that desire for God, we have to understand what that really means. Because that desire for God is not like any other desire, because all the other desires—be it for money, be it for fame, be it for power or social position, be it for health or whatever, these are all desires of the ego, not the desires of the soul. The soul has one urge, to express its infinity because the soul is nothing but God within. All the other desires are not of the soul. All the other desires are of the ego.
And now we are saying, when the Master urged, or the scriptures are telling us, practice devotion, practice the desire, cultivate the desire for God that means NOT selfishness. It means to gather our feeling or the force and direct it to its God in utter self-forgetfulness, utter self-forgetfulness. So there is nothing left except ‘You’ and the I is gone, it means a transcending of the ego. Transcending of the ego with its quirks and desires and likes and dislikes. That’s what it means.
You know today especially I think we find very little real love in that sense, unselfishness, pure love…
There is no way to find God’s love other than to surrender
The next aspect is, equally important, surrender. In fact, in the Hindu scriptures very often when the subject comes up of devotion they are using the word ‘surrender.’ And Master said there is no way to find God’s love other than to surrender to him.
Now I think you have all had the experience, you had a good meditation, everything was fine you felt peaceful, and then you came down into outer consciousness and all hell breaks loose. Have you had that experience? Everything goes wrong, there is nothing but tests and trials and difficulties and you think, my God is this the results of my meditations, is this what yoga is all about. You know why, there is a science to this. In meditation we are lifting the consciousness, we are going at least toward the peace of the soul. We are rising above the drama of the duality of maya, toward at least the unity of Christ consciousness and everything is fine, because there, karma doesn’t work. And then consciousness goes down, goes into identification again with the ego, and you are going into the concrete mixer of the duality of the world, and there the karma is working, there the tests and trials and difficulties are.
There you are. Now why do we suffer? Lack of surrender. Because we are in the ego again, identified with the ego with its likes and dislikes, and the ego is resisting, is rebelling against anything that is unpleasant. Not the soul, not the soul, the soul is never touched. In any of the experiences, the most painful experiences, the soul is not touched. Just as the soul is not touched by any mistakes we are making. It is the ever pure image of God. And so if we understand what the whole thing is all about, what the training is all about…
‘Struggle ceases in surrender’
There is a saint in India who said ‘Struggle ceases in surrender.’ If you surrender there is acceptance, you cheerfully face everything that happens to you, success and failure, honor and dishonor, praise and blame, gain and loss, all the same to you. You know that everything happens by the divine will. And life then becomes easy, glowing, painless. And that requires continuous remembrance of God. The moment we forget him, the ego comes in, duality comes. Just as light dispels darkness, the moment the light goes off, darkness comes. Do you understand that? It’s not easy is it?
Constant remembrance of God, realizing that we are not here for our enjoyment. This is not our home, this is not our home, this is a pretty lousy place, it’s not our home. Our home is perfect. We are here for training, all the various things that happen to us, the tests and trials and karma, this is nothing but school, it is nothing but a purification process.
But if you understand it, this is school, I have to go through these things, I accept it, I do not resist it, I accept it. Then comes an entirely different attitude, entirely different attitude.
I remember one time when I was facing a terrible test, it was so terrible that now when I think about it, I don’t even remember what it was—but that’s usually what it is like, when you are going through it, it is mountains and after it seems like nothing. And remember I got up all my will-power to face it. And Master got a hold of me and said ‘Don’t try to do it with will power, you’ll never make it! Use devotion.’
Somehow I got through, because I didn’t know what he meant. But later on when I caught on a little bit, I understood what he meant. Devotion–he meant surrender. Don’t resist with your ego, accept it. And then that great obstacle which we are building up with our likes and dislikes, that great obstacle becomes small and you can handle it.
Chisel Thou my life according to Thy design
(Then Brother tells the story of attending Sunday School at Encinitas and the leader always opened with that one prayer of Master’s) that one prayer that is loaded with dynamite. You know what it was? “Oh, Divine Sculptor, chisel Thou my life according to Thy design.” And I never said anything, but inwardly I thought, he’s a very brave man! because praying that prayer, he’s asking for trouble! (laughter)
(Then Bro. A. tells how when he first came in the ashram he heard that if you are not going through tests your are not progressing, but he caught on quickly, you don’t have to pray for tests, they come soon enough.)
But now remember this, there’s a beautiful illustration—Chisel Thou my life according to Thy design—because when you visualize it there’s a marble block, and the sculpture, that perfect masterpiece has already been inside that marble block ever since it has existed. And the sculptor has to do is chip off what doesn’t belong, and there it is presto, see? Same with us, exactly the same.
We don’t have to attain anything, we have the divine consciousness, the soul is perfect image of God, always was. But we are marble blocks, you know it’s a very nice illustration. Most of us are a little dense, in England they call them ‘block heads’. So we have nothing to attain, nothing. We are the perfect image of God. What we have to get rid of is all the accumulation–accumulated through incarnations–desires, idiosyncrasies, works, tendencies, all kinds of rubbish, attachments and so on.
Now, when we pray ‘Chisel thou my life according to Thy design, then he starts chiseling. What do we do? We say, now wait a minute, that hurts, stop chiseling. Now think about it, when he chisels off, especially when a big chunk comes off, which is you know very painful, what do we do? We grab that chunk and cement it right back into the block. Isn’t it true?
That is why we have to go through the same painful experiences again and again and again. But what we have to learn to do is let go, and hang on. But mostly we are hanging on to those chips and let go of God. We have to do it in reverse, let go of the chips and hang on to God.
It is nothing but the purification process, getting rid of karma
I think you have all had that experience, I have certainly had it, you think God is far away, the guru is far away. Not so. Where is the sculptor when he is chiseling? Right near the block, isn’t he? As close as can be, as close as can be.
And so learn from that, this is an aspect of devotion, surrender, let go. And have trust, because God gives according to each one what we need. And it is nothing but the purification process, getting rid of karma, getting rid of imperfections.
(Bro. A. tells the story from the Autobiography of the devotee who climbed the Himalayan mountain to find Babaji and asked to be accepted and said if he didn’t he would jump off the mountain, and Babaji said ‘Jump!’) That’s rather drastic, isn’t it! But sometimes I thought when you have a real juicy test, one of these that hit you, these are the good ones, when you are hit on all levels, physically and emotionally and mentally and spiritually. And sometimes when they are going on for days, and weeks and perhaps months, sometimes I thought well jumping off a cliff is really not so bad because it just takes a couple of seconds, because when you have the long tests your kind of worn out after a while.
Take it, accept it, surrender and know that you are not alone! The door is right there. And when I am going through a hard time you have to say to yourself, my Lord, I am progressing. That’s what you have to do, you have to take it from a positive angle.
Now, why is it so difficult to surrender? Why is it so difficult to change the thought of I to YOU, God? Most of the time it is because of a lack of proper concept of God, always feeling that God is an absolute abstract being somewhere. People are afraid. There was a man in the 6th century and he said ‘I am supposed to pray for other people. But what if God is angry with me and he turns his anger to them!’ What a concept of God. God can never be angry. God is peace, God is love, God is compassion.
And so you have to cultivate a concept that is workable, that you can be intimate with, that you can TRUST, that you can love. And loving means UTTER TRUST. Think about it, if somebody comes to you and says ‘I love you, but I don’t trust you’ what do you think? Utter trust, utter trust.
And the Master said, God is very human, and he responds to our human affection because it is He who has become human. You have to have a loving relationship, a workable relationship where you can be very intimate, and then you can trust. I have seen this often, during a test sometimes I’ve felt like dangling over a cliff on one thread, and that thread broke, figuratively speaking, and I landed right in Master’s lap. It’s scary the first few times, but after a while you think oh, I’m going to land in Master’s lap so what, now the test is gone. That’s what you have to cultivate.
Pure Unselfish Love
Now I come back again to the first aspect, pure love. It says in the Bible the ‘pure’ in heart will see God. Pure means free from selfishness. Mother Teresa of Calcutta told this story. She heard about a poor family in India, a Hindu family, it was a large family, they had nothing to eat, hadn’t eaten for several days. And so that evening she went to that family and brought a little bag of rice. And she gave that rice to the mother of that family, and she said, the first thing you would expect that mother to do she would start cooking that rice. She said she did not. The first thing she did was divide that rice into half and take that half to a neighbor, also a poor family and also that family had not had anything to eat for several days, and she gave that rice to the mother of that family, and she said that was a Moslem family. And Mother Teresa said I could have gone back that evening and brought some more food, I did not. I waited till the next day. Because I wanted that woman to feel that JOY, that comes from sacrifice, from unconditional, unselfish love.
(Bro. A. tells another story about a very poor servant girl who insisted on giving him her only possession because she saw him admiring it, a calendar of Krishna). In India, the majority of the people, those who are living in the villages and that’s where the main population is, there is a sweetness, there is a humility, there is a surrender, there is a devotion – I couldn’t believe, I couldn’t believe. And so I thought there are lots of very pure souls. They may not consciously seek God, but they are pure souls. And the moment they are consciously turning toward God, they will find, the work is done!
God comes where he finds the vessel empty
There is a saint who said, ‘God comes where he finds the vessel empty.’ That’s a wonderful saying, ‘God comes where he finds the vessel empty.’ Empty of selfishness. Now taking this as a practical application, in our lives, in our search for God, in our meditation–and I want to bring this point out now very strongly because I see this again and again from letters that are coming into Mother Center—that devotees do not quite understand or do not have the right attitude. Someone said to Daya Ma, in spite of my efforts I have received no results in meditation and from the techniques. And Daya Ma said my experience has been ‘Give, give, give and do not ask for any results.’ Saint Teresa of Avila said meditation without results is not a loss but is a great gain. It teaches unselfish, unconditional love…She said don’t be like the common soldiers who demand their wages each day. Be like the noblest officers who serve their king for nothing.
There was a saint that said, the souls that God loves are not gorged with honey. He gives sugar to the little children and then later hardly any. Meaning in the very beginning perhaps we have, as a come on, as an encouragement, we have certain experiences, and then seemingly all of a sudden they are disappearing and you think, what’s going on? It’s like going through a tunnel, there is nothing but darkness, but every step you take you are going closer to the other end, and gradually you begin to see the light from the other side, and pretty soon you are there.
Going through the tunnel means purification process, we are in school remember. And we have to learn to make the vessel empty. And we must learn to Master the techniques so that we are able to withdraw that energy inside into the higher centers. That takes time. …
Withdraw into the silence within –THAT’S bhakti yoga
…Intensity does not mean straining (Brother talks about hong sau). Same thing with the Om technique. When the Master says listen with reverence it doesn’t mean straining so the energy is going back into the emotions and the body. We cannot have the experience of the OM, impossible! as long as the energy and the emotions and the consciousness are in the body. That makes us body identified, it creates gross vibrations and gross perception. The OM is too subtle. And that is why purity, the pure in heart shall see God…. When you come to attunement of OM, and the OM is the first experience of God. Cosmic vibration manifests as light at the Christ center, as the sound of the OM, or if you have none of those don’t be discouraged because there is a feeling aspect of the vibration, Peace, Peace. But unless that work is done of purification, you cannot perceive the OM because the OM is too subtle…
Patience, and practice with devotion in the sense of you are not practicing with the sense of ‘what do I get,’ because that’s selfishness. Do you understand, it’s very subtle. And gradually the OM comes, and contacting the OM means you are contacting that very power of love, that universal force of attraction that draws everything back into God’s consciousness again.
And that is why Sri Yukteswar says in Holy Science, in meditation you become baptized in the cosmic stream of the holy sound. And this baptism is the second birth of man, and is called bhakti yoga. That’s the deeper aspect of bhakti yoga, most people think it’s just an emotional feeling toward God, its not, there’s a far deeper aspect, far deeper aspect. As we learn to withdraw into the silence within and contact the OM, THAT’S bhakti yoga.
…in the higher ages bhakti yoga, devotion was always in combination with raja yoga, with the techniques of control of the life force, always. In the dark ages they said bhakti yoga is the greatest path, the only path that really works without techniques, because they didn’t have any…
Self is gone, and there is You, You
Practice the techniques, and then you can love, listen with reverence, utter devotion, pure peace, total self forgetfulness. The ego is gone, the self is forgotten there is only that, that is a manifestation of God. And then gradually merging back. But the ego is still hanging on until the very last moment, even in the OM, until the very last moment, the devotee renounces the ego and the idea of separation. And now do you see how strong that suggestion is of separate existence, individuality, the ego. And so you see that the whole process, all the tests and trials, and all the difficulties we are going through, the whole path, is nothing but the step-by-step procedure to purification until the self is gone, until the thought of self is gone, and there is You, You.
And so Sri Yukteswar says the culture of this love is the principal thing for the attainment of holy salvation…The culture of this love is the principal thing to attain holy salvation. It is impossible for a man to advance a step toward the same without it. And that is why Master again and again emphasized in his writing, work on devotion, work on devotion.
Wherever you create devotion, there is your temple. Some of the Christian saints say that the will is the devotional heart, because you create devotion with the will. You can at will create devotion, by thinking something deeply devotional, and there is your temple, and there is your God. Bro. Anandamoy had told the story of being in the car with Master and the young monk was excited about the new car, but Bro. Anandamoy thought ‘I have the opportunity to be with Master’, and when he thought this Master reached over and held his hand and looked at him with the sweetest smile. And this memory he uses to put himself in the presence of Master, to create devotion…